28 Jun 2021

A Look at the Banking Sector from Our Graduate Ece Börü

As part of Istanbul Technical University Alumni Talks, Management Engineering 1988 graduate Türkiye Sınai Kalkınma Bankası (Industrial Development Bank of Turkey) CEO Ece Börü and Asst. Prof. Dr. Bülent Cerit from ITU Industrial Engineering had an enjoyable interview.

News: İTÜ Media and Communication Office

Our graduate Ece Börü, who answered our questions sincerely in the talk titled “Sustainability and the Future” moderated by ITU Industrial Engineering Department faculty member Dr. Bülent Cerit, talked about the advantages the education she received at ITU provided in business life and said, “The way of approaching problems and analytical thinking skill taught at ITU will be the magic key in finding the solution to the problems you will encounter throughout your life.”

“ITU gave us analytical thinking and problem solving skills”

Management Engineering 1988 graduate and Türkiye Sınai Kalkınma Bankası CEO Ece Börü started the interview by talking about the advantages of starting business life as an ITU graduate. She said the following about her student years at ITU: “One of the questions most frequently asked by our fellow students about the things we learned at school was: I am learning these, but where will I use them in the future? There was no answer to this at that time. We had a professor whom I never forget, who used to say, ‘A person who graduates from the Technical University knows how to solve problems even if knows nothing else’. These words would comfort us. Because you feel a bit uneasy when starting business life since you don’t know exactly what you will use where. But once you start, you realize that even though the knowledge or the courses are forgotten, the acquired mindset, methods and the way of approaching problems, in short analytical thinking, remains as a magic key throughout your life. Whatever job you do, you have acquired a solid method in creating solutions to problems.”

“The banking sector rapidly adapted to the change during the pandemic”

Börü expressed that the banking sector in particular continued to work during the pandemic period without cutting speed and said the following about the workings of the new normal banking business processes: “We have experienced many different times since 1989, when we entered the sector, yet we have never experienced such a crisis that affected the whole world. The first coronavirus case was seen in Turkey on March 11; before that, during our trips abroad we used to see offices, flexible working and remote working, and we used to like that. After all, we were examining the methods of doing business and we were following where the world was going. But you know, the banking industry is completely dependent on authority, there is no such thing as remote work; despite this, we still started to test remote and flexible working and business continuity crisis management in some of our departments. We sent 90 percent of the team to their homes in one week. Since that day everything in our buildings continues from home; our work, including the treasury, has not stopped. We have seen many benefits of the tests we have done here and of being prepared. Because this is not only about our colleagues’ being predisposed, it requires technical infrastructure, it is a matter of capacity, a matter of security… It was not a difficult period for us because we were prepared.”

Börü stated that especially with the intensive use of technology during the pandemic, the way of doing business changed very suddenly and the engineers adapted to it rapidly and said, “Today we are discussing this: In digital transformation, our bank employees as well as our engineers need to be prepared for new programs, new platforms and new technologies that we will use in the future. In other words, our colleagues should have the skills and competence to use all the opportunities in the digital world in addition to their banking knowledge.”

“Turkey needs renewable energy sources for investment and development”

Conveying that Türkiye Sınai Kalkınma Bankası gives serious support to the field of renewable energy, Börü commented on sustainability as follows: “As Türkiye Sınai Kalkınma Bankası, we were making investments in machinery and factory installations. In the following years, especially in the 90s, we turned to investments related to the environment and protective of the environment. Afterwards, we turned to renewable energy sources in the field of energy, which seems to be the most important input for every sector required by Turkey and the world. Since we can receive responses to this from abroad, we currently have an energy portfolio of nearly forty percent. Almost all of them are in renewable energy: We started with HEPPs in particular, wind power plants, solar power plants, biowaste, geothermal energy… Our HEPPs are about to be completed, and we are particularly leaning towards solar energy and hybrids. Turkey needed renewable energy sources for investment and development.”

“X, Y and Z; we are working together as three generations”

Expressing that they are working together as the three generations of X, Y and Z, Börü said that the culture of doing business together is extremely important for the development of organizations and individuals: “If individuals are at a standstill while the organization progresses, those persons in the accelerating organization are eliminated in some way. If it is the other way around, that is, the individual progresses while the organization lags behind, this time the organization is eliminated. There is a generation gap between me and my two daughters, just as there was between me and my mother. Understanding each other, empathy and healthy communication is very important. I think that generation gap is natural. If there is no generation gap, there won’t be any progress and change. Generation gap is healthy, disagreement is healthy, as long as they are not destructive but constructive. Communication, empathy, being open to change and progress overcomes everything.”

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